Recently elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken the St Patrick’s Day homophobic bull by the horns and announced that he will not march in this year’s March 17th day parade in protest at the AOH, Catholic Church dominated event’s ban on gay Irish people participating as gays.
Hardly had the ink dried on de Blasio’s press statement than a predictably irate Niall O’Dowd, editor of the Irish Voice newspaper and would-be Clinton insider, condemned the new Mayor for not following the precedent set by his predecessor, multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg, O’Dowd wrote, would march in the Fifth Avenue parade every year but also made sure he would turn up at a St Patrick’s day march organised by gays in the borough of Queens which took place the weekend before.
As O’Dowd put it: “Everyone got to save face and the Irish parade community never got to feel that Bloomberg was deliberately dissing them.”
The ban on gays parading down Fifth Avenue has been an open sore in the Irish-American community for many years now and, as O’Dowd rightly concedes, part of the blame for the failure to resolve the dispute was the stubborn refusal of the AOH and the Church to sit down and discuss the matter with Irish gay groups.
Aye, but here’s the rub, Niall. As long as the gays meekly staged their alternative parade on the other side of the East River, well out of sight, and did not challenge the mainstream parade organisers, neither the AOH nor mother Church had any reason or incentive to change their ways.
Now that the mayor has snubbed them perhaps the Catholic diehards will consider changing their outdated and bigoted ways and join the 21st century. Otherwise they are likely to find themselves increasingly marginalised and boycotted.
The same logic applied in a place that Niall O’Dowd knows well, in Northern Ireland. When Nationalists refused to stay uncomplaining in their own ghettos and came out on to the main streets to demand their rights, then and only then did things change for the better. If it was okay for Catholics in Belfast and Derry to do that, Niall, then surely it is also the okay thing for New York’s Irish gays.
None of this seems to have occurred to O’Dowd who blasted the new mayor: “De Blasio has hardly gotten off on a good footing with the Irish American community. He could have chosen the same path Bloomberg did and then worked behind the scenes to resolve this issue. Not that he likely cares about that. This way he gets the splashy headline….”
Before Niall gets too belligerent with de Blasio, he might care to consider whose Senate campaign the new first citizen of New York ran a few years back, someone whose family de Blasio has been friends with for many years, who is widely tipped to be a shoe-in for the 2016 Democratic nomination for President and whose approval and endorsement the Irish Voice editor openly craves. You do remember Hilary don’t you, Niall? Better be careful.
In the meantime well done, Mr Mayor!